GEELONG Football Club has made a public statement of support for marriage equality ahead of a coordinated push in the Geelong area by local and national advocates.

In an open letter published on the club’s website, Geelong Football Club said it had been contacted as part of an awareness-raising campaign, and affirmed respect for diversity as a core value of the club.

“We believe that the Geelong Cats is a welcoming place where we seek to engage respectfully with people with diverse experiences and backgrounds. We advocate this attitude as we believe it will deepen our understanding and appreciation of others, motivate us to embrace our differences and make us richer for the experience,” the letter read.

The club told the Star Observer the statement was prompted when former mayor of the southern Victorian shire of Colac-Otway, Sharyn Faulkner, got in contact and urged the club to show its support.

Faulkner and advocates from Australian Marriage Equality are aiming to build support in the area ahead of a vote in Geelong Council on Tuesday night to affirm the council’s support for marriage equality.

If passed, the motion would see the council advocate directly for marriage equality via letters all local state and federal MPs, as well as the Victorian and Australian human rights bodies.

While there has a groundswell of support for LGBTI rights on the council, the motion will face opposition from some councillors. Both Cr Tony Ansett and Cr Stretch Kontejl have raised concerns over an alleged lack of community consultation, and said the issue should be a matter of conscience.

Australian Marriage Equality national director Rodney Croome will be in Geelong and Colac next weekend to rally support for the issue, targeting local federal Liberal MP Sarah Henderson.

The visit is one of a number of targeted lobbying trips to regional and rural areas by the organisation, who will be in Albury to target local federal Liberal MP Sussan Ley later this month. These visits are designed to target MPs identified as possibly open to changing their positions on marriage equality if the issue goes to another conscience vote in federal parliament.

Croome also praised the statement on marriage equality by Geelong Football Club.

“I salute Geelong’s leadership on an issue that is important to many of its players and fans, and urge other clubs to follow,” he said.


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